Friday, October 26, 2007

What Makes An Album

Preface: Misty and I were just talking about JEW's new cd - Chase This Light, and (with her help) I realized why I have felt frustrated with it. It isn't the songs--the songs are great (special nod to "Gotta Be Somebody's Blues"). It doesn't feel like an album to me, though. To help illustrate what I am feeling, let me begin by talking about Clarity.
If I were somehow kidnapped by ex-Soviets in white snow-camo suits and big old guns, and then taken to a deserted island and given the choice of having one, and only one, cd to listen to for the rest of my life, I would choose Clarity. Why? Clarity is an experience. It offers so much musically and lyrically. It offers emotions and each song takes me somewhere new. It is the ultimate listening experience. It is important to understand that I don't say that lightly. There are far too many cds that I love and cherish to make this an easy decision. However, this album takes me everywhere I want to go (with music) and it does it in 13 songs.
Compare that to another disc that JEW released: Singles. Singles is great! It has fantastic music that I love, but it is not an album. It is a collection of singles. It promises nothing more and it exceeds fantastically at being exactly what it purports to be.
So what do we have with Chase This Light? We have what I feel is a collection of songs. They are great songs, and they are worth listening to. I am quite grateful that Jimmy took the time/money/energy to write, record, and release them. However, to call it an album places a certain expectation in my mind. That most likely is my own weakness, but it is there and it is real. I expect more from an album. I expect an experience. The songs on Chase This Light all feel the same. Therefore, I can listen to any one of them and get the same feeling as when I listen to any of the others (as stated previously, with the exception of "Gotta Be Somebody's Blues").
So, the question I have is: are my expectations too high? The answer may very well be "yes." It's too early to pass final judgment on the disc, because I've only had it for a week. Every other Jimmy cd has taken a while to reach "full potency" for me. In another 3 months, we may very well find ourselves hearing me completely take back what I said before and singing Chase This Light's praises as the best JEW album ever. However, for right now I feel that Chase This Light should have been titled Singles: Vol. 2.

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